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Working with Soumitra Chatterjee in Abhijaan is an achievement in itself, says Parambrata Chatterjee

The biopic of the late legendary actor — also starring Jisshu Sengupta, Paoli Dam and Basabdatta Chatterjee — will be released in theatres on 15 April.

Roushni Sarkar

The acting great Soumitra Chatterjee’s biopic Abhijaan, directed by Parambrata Chatterjee, will be released in theatres on 15 April. Also, starring Jisshu Sengupta, Paoli Dam, Basabdatta Chatterjee and Qaushiq Mukherjee and the director himself, the film had its world premiere at the London Indian Film Festival 2021.

Abhijaan was also screened at the 52nd International Film Festival of India in Goa last year.

Soumitra Chatterjee (1935-2020): Icon who enriched Bengal's culture and Indian cinema

In the film, Parambrata plays an aspiring director, who visits Soumitra Chatterjee in order to make a film about his life and works. As the actual Soumitra recounts his journey, the story unfolds in flashback, in which Sengupta plays the legend’s younger self.

According to the director, having the artiste play himself in his biopic was a rare opportunity itself. Soumitra Chatterjee died after completing the film on 15 November 2020, from post-COVID complications.

"I think we hardly realized the importance of his existence and the way he sheltered us when he was alive,” said the director. “I know people will have a lot of things to say after watching the film. They will criticize it too. But personally, I am proud of the fact that we could work with Soumitra Chatterjee on such a special project. I consider it an achievement in itself.”

The actor-turned-director also revealed that he was not the one to take the initiative to make the film. The idea emerged from the deep association between one of the producers of the film, Doctor Subhendu Sen, and Soumitra Chatterjee. Sen then approached Parambrata, along with producers Navratan Jhawar and Navinesh Jhawar to direct the film.

“I was quite nervous initially but eventually, I dropped all worries and got on with the project,” said the director, “I knew him for years and shared enriching moments with him. I was eager to bring alive the philosophy behind his work and life on screen.”

According to him, it was not an easy job to present the detailed journey of such a prolific artiste, who is often considered to be Bengal’s last renaissance man. “To bring that wholesome picture, I had to delve deep into the human being he was,” Parambrata said.

However, the process was quite challenging. Parambrata had to discard as much as he could incorporate while capturing various shades of Soumitra Chatterjee while staying focused on the narrative.  

The pandemic hampered the shooting schedule of the film to a great extent. “We were supposed to finish shooting in March 2020. But we had to wait till August to resume shooting the film, that too in parts. We were also supposed to film some theatre sequences with a large audience, but we had to manage those scenes with computer graphics as gatherings were forbidden at the time,” said the director.